Keir Leslie – 31 January, 2013
In the end, the most fun I had with Youle's work was by putting heaps of spheres in at the start, and watching them rattle, bounce and run off each other, and onto and across the floor, evading the finality Youle seems determined to marshal them into. For all the forced, tiresome jollity of Youle's work, it feels humourless.
Rolling Maul program at NG
Matt Akehurst, Rob Hood, and Wayne Youle
22 December 2012 - 27 January 2013
You hear Youle’s work first, as you come up the steps, the racket of maple on pine. It’s a clattering, insistent noise, that being probably the most interesting thing about Youle’s work - a large set of wooden channels, arranged on one wall in such a way that a wooden ball may be dropped at the top and roll to the bottom. Once you realise that the system is entirely deterministic, that a given ball will always end in one bucket or the other, it becomes quite hard to see the point. If you are interested in coin zig-zags, the local fish and chip shop will almost certainly have a better one. (Possibly, amusingly, it will have one designed for older, larger coins, and there may be a resultant frission of interest in introducing a smaller coinage into the system.)
In the end, the most fun I had with Youle’s work was by putting heaps of spheres in at the start, and watching them rattle, bounce and run off each other, and onto and across the floor, evading the finality Youle seems determined to marshal them into. For all the forced, tiresome jollity of Youle’s work, it feels humourless.
Rob Hood presents a large wooden cabinet, placed facing the entrance at an angle to the wall. Behind, a large sheet of black plastic billows out, covering its back, filling the space between the furniture and the wall. It’s an attractive formal device, a trailing bustle behind the stately cabinetry. On the shelves are placed various objects: a gold cone, some tat, a few cups, a collection of books, some vinyl records. It’s also a device that recalls his presentation of the Fomison library at Prospect. The books - Ballard, Lovecraft, the occult, some encyclopedic texts - and the records - Nick Cave, Joy Division, Sonic Youth - present an image of the artist as obsessed with the hidden, the secret history, distortion. It could be read as a self-portrait, or a vanitas.
There are also some simulcra plaster bricks, manufactured by Hood. The plaster bricks, presented on the floor, begin to feel redundant in this context. A reading through to Carl Andre is opened up, but it doesn’t really go far enough. The nicest play is between Hood’s fake brick propping the gallery door open (possible a nice call-out to Gentry’s foot in the door?) and the neighbouring architects’ real stone slab. Cutely, the architects next door are called Nott, the negation echoing Hood’s concerns.
Matt Akehurst’s work is the quietest in the show. A series of small, polished white blobs sit on the rafters, peering down at the space. In some ways they are almost twee, given their anthropomorphisation, scale, and polish. In other ways, they take on an eerie, Lovecraftian role, as Andrew Paul Wood argued in his review of Akehurst’s show Object. This Lovecraftian, pulp-horror reading is amplified by Hood’s choice of literature.
His command of the formal vocabulary of modernist biomorphism is, by this point, convincing. It may be this formal control that has allowed Akehurst to dispense with the plinth and crutches, and place his blobs straight into the gallery space. This move pushes the work into a more direct confrontation with the space, and pulls it somewhat away from the historicising irony of much of his previous work.
Hood’s and Akehurst’s work plays well together, bouncing ironies and horror, references and quotations off each other. Youle’s work seems isolated and shallow by comparison.
To read a transcript of the panel discussion “Whose Oceania?” held recently in London, and more on NZ arts abroad, CLICK HERE
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